A teacher at Saunders secondary school in London is under investigation after allegedly using a racist slur in a Grade 12 English class, the Thames Valley District school board said in a statement Monday evening.
The slur was reported by a student to the high school’s administration last week, the board said, adding the teacher may have used it while reciting the lyrics of a pop song in class.
The board did not say in its statement what the word was reported to be, nor did it identify the teacher, saying they have been removed from teaching duties until the investigation is carried out. Nor did the board name the song the teacher may have been quoting or the artist.
The board said it is investigating the teacher as part of its “commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”
“My expectation is that all staff are aware there is no justifiable reason to use racist words in a Thames Valley school,” Mark Fisher, the board’s education director, said in the prepared statement.
“Using words that reflect a history of white colonialism, oppression and racism, even in the context of deconstructing art or music, can create traumatic, emotional triggers for racialized students,” Fisher said. “The Thames Valley District school board is committed to equitable outcomes for all students.”
The investigation comes after board staff took part in mandatory anti-racism training on Nov. 12, Fisher added.
Fisher also said the board is developing a set of guidelines for the “non-use of racial and other slurs and epithets” for its teachers, which will be released in the coming months.
“We have been working hard to develop a document to provide teachers with guidance that makes it crystal clear to everyone that racist language is never appropriate at school,” he said.
“It is important for our staff to create learning environments in which all students feel safe and comfortable — physically, socially, emotionally, and in terms of their identities,” he added.